Thursday, August 7, 2008

Zucchini Blossoms

I’ve got this great dad, see, and every once and a while my mom drags him down to DC for a visit. It’s not like he doesn’t like me, it’s more like he abhors the traffic.

And I get that – he was born and raised in Delaware (like me) and has chosen to stay there his whole life (unlike me) and rather enjoys his short commute and plethora or parking options whenever he goes (really, really unlike me).

So when he comes to town (and you, too, mom) I want it to be extra-special. Brunch at Crème, mussels at Bistro du Coin, wine on our roof deck. Chewy chocolate chip cookies that stay uncovered on the counter, eaten between every meal. And special items picked with care from our farmer’s market.

I grew up with a garden, (courtesy of my dad’s sweat and hard labor) that stretched along the side of our acre-long backyard. So unlike now, as I have to pay premium prices and wake early to get the best of the produce at the market, as I child I merely walked outback with a bucket and started picking. I hope one day I can share the passion of gardening with my own children, the feeling of accomplishment as the first cabbage heads pop up, the carrots start to sprout, the beans are strung neatly on vines, placed in pods like pearls. The satisfaction of biting into a juicy red tomato or a fried green one. But for now I’ll rely on my market for fresh vegetables. And I’ll plot and plan. (Or, plan my plots!)

This weekend’s family visit (and simultaneous visit to the farmer’s market) called for zucchini blossoms. Beautiful, yellow leaves surrounded by pale green pricklies. Now I know that last month’s issue of Bon Apetit taught us that stuffing these lovelies with cheese was a bit passé, but it’s also incredibly delicious. And I’m pretty sure my dad’s not that concerned with being cool, anyway.

Fried Zucchini Blossoms with Ricotta Cheese
(Inspiration borrowed from Mario Batali’s Fiori di Zucca Fritti, naturally)

Ingredients
12 zucchini flowers
1 cup fresh ricotta cheese (I prefer to make my own, or use Keswick Creamery’s)
1 egg
1 small or medium onion, finely chopped
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground sea salt
Dash of ground black pepper
1 large golden tomato
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Basil leaves (fresh if you have them, but dried works fine)

Directions
Open the zucchini flowers and remove the stamens. Be careful not to rip the flowers. I found fishing it out with one or two fingers worked best. The stamens snap pretty easily.

In a bowl, stir together the ricotta, egg, onion, nutmeg, and salt and pepper. Using a small spoon or scraper, stuff each blossom with the filling. Try to ensure that the filling is far enough into the flower that it won’t spill out too much into the pan when cooking. You may want to arrange the tips of the petals over the filling on the top, creating a cap. This will help with spillage, too. Set aside.

Chop up the tomato into cubes. Combine the tomatoes, ½ cup of the olive oil, vinegar and basil leaves in a blender and blend until smooth (the mixture will appear creamy). Pour the mixture through a strainer set over a bowl and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 200°F. Line a baking sheet with paper towels.

In a frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Place 3 or 4 flowers into the pan and cook (spread them out and only cook a few at a time…they’re delicate when flipping and need the room), turning once, until golden brown on both sides. Transfer to the baking sheet and keep warm in the oven while cooking the remaining batches.

Arrange 3 or 4 blossoms in a shallow serving bowl, and drizzle with the tomato dressing to serve.

I served these with a baguette, which was perfect for soaking up extra tomato sauce.

2 comments:

saucytart said...

this seems divine! I have some lovely blossoms that are crying to be stuffed. nice writing too.

FoodyGuru (Srimathi) said...

Hi,

Thank you for giving me a lead to using the flowers. I have posted using the Indian cheese and linked back to your post. Please do visit www.fewminutewonders.com.